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Unknown Maker
Divination Instrument (Kashekesheke or Kakishi)
20th century

The Luba peoples of the south-eastern section of the Democratic Republic of the Congo possess a number of consultation practices for investigating such difficult questions as illness, infertility, a poor harvest or a criminal matter. Diviners are trained in the traditional codes, meaning of objects and the activities required to investigate the past in order to shed light on present circumstances. Diviners associated with the Luba royal court employ trance or spirit possession. Another practice, represented in the Lang collection, employs the mboko, (M84-381) a calabash filled with special objects that, when shaken, form a configuration that the diviner studies to determine a solution. Power figures, or minkisi (M84-097), are used in yet another type of divination practice, as these sculpted figures contain medicinal substances believed to have special powers.

A personal, non-institutional practice involves the kashekesheke, a small wooden carving held by both specialist and client as it moves against a mat or the ground. This movement produces a sound `sheke-sheke,¿ from which the name of the instrument derives. Its movements are the responses of the diviner¿s guiding spirit, as the specialist and client conduct an extended dialogue to unravel family histories and other conflicts that may illuminate the cause of the difficult situation. This kashekesheke is adorned with a female head, complete with elaborate coiffure and scarification marks on the face. Although the guiding spirit and the diviners may be male or female, the carving is always a female head, alluding to the Luba peoples¿ beliefs regarding the spiritual power of women.

 
Unknown Maker
Luba peoples
Divination Instrument (Kashekesheke or Kakishi)
20th century
wood
height / width / depth: 10.50 x 2.50 x 5.00 cm; 4.13 x .98 x 1.97 in.
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-414

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